“WE are absolutely thrilled to be honest,” beamed Limerick U-21 hurling manager John Kiely after his side shocked Tipperary.
Four years ago Kiely was a selector with Leo O’Connor when Limerick won the last Munster U-21 title. The last three years saw Limerick knocked out in the first round and Kiely was the fourth manager since the 2011 win.
“A very tight tough battle that we didn’t know what way it was going until right down to the wire at the finish,” he gasped.
“We just got some key scores at the end but Tipp had a few bad wides but at the same time the free count wasn’t exactly in favour of us and we had a bit of difficulty with that during the game - we wanted the frees to be given to us but that’s the advantage rule now and it works for you some times and it doesn’t the other times. We were okay with the officials afterwards, we shock hands,” explained Kiely of his annoyance at some refereeing calls.
“We had to take the game to them - if we didn’t take the game to them early on it was going to be more difficult because if they got a good start with their ability and confidence, they would have pressed on for sure. We had to get a good start and we got 20-minutes - we had focused on 10, we wanted 10 good minutes at the start and then re-access and then we went for another 10 and we got it and then we didn’t for the last 10 and that’s something to work on for the next day because we need to keep going and going,” he stressed.
“You have to get your body in, your foot in, your arm in and disrupt and Tipp don’t like that - it’s not their forte, they like open space and they have the touch to do that so we had to get in among them. We had to fight above and beyond our weight and we did it and are happy with that,” said Kiely.
Limerick raced 12-points clear but were only five ahead at half time.
“We were in dire straights for that few minutes. Fellas were getting tired and getting dragged into places we didn’t want them to get dragged into. It’s very difficult to get messages around the field quickly. Every team is going to get their purple patch - we were lucky to get 20-minutes from the beginning and Tipp were obviously going to come back when you have a team of that quality they were not going to lie down for a full 30-minutes without bringing on something and they found some gaps and got in for goals. We got to half time five up and we regrouped and had to get fresh legs on the field.”